U.S. Open Junior Preview; Junior Qualifying Gets an Upgrade; Harrison Falls Short in Fifth Set Tiebreaker
I've got to make this quick, because we've got an early flight tomorrow to New York (unfortunately, not early enough to get to the USTA Billie Jean King Tennis Center in time for the just-announced Player Development press conference with Patrick McEnroe and Jose Higueras).
My preview of the upcoming Junior Championships, which begin Sunday, is now available at the Tennis Recruiting Network. I went to great lengths to explain Argentinian Diego Schwartzman's possible seeding in the main draw, but wild card Maxx Lipman made that entire paragraph moot by beating the ATP's 550th-ranked player 2-6, 6-2, 7-5 today in the first round of junior qualifying. Other U.S. boys advancing to the final qualifying round on Saturday are: Michael Zhu and wild card Spencer Papa, both of whom beat seeds and will play each other; Alex Petrone and wild cards Alexios Halebian and Mackenzie McDonald, all of whom beat seeds; and Shane Vinsant, the seventh seed.
Eight of the 14 U.S. girls advanced, with top seed Chanelle Van Nguyen and Robin Anderson, the 12th seed, winning in three sets. Julia Elbaba, Blair Shankle, wild card Brooke Austin and Gabrielle DeSimone all beat seeded players to make the final round. The 14-year-old Austin will play No. 14 seed Lauren Herring in one of the two matches between American girls. Thirteen-year-old Gabrielle Andrews beat No. 8 seed Katerina Popova of Russia 6-2, 6-2, and will face Anderson. I hope to be onsite in time to see both matches.
A great big thank you to the U.S. Open for providing live scoring and draws for the junior qualifying. It is the only slam to do that, and I had never dared hope for such a progressive step. I pray they've now set a standard that the other junior slams will feel compelled to match.
For the junior qualifying draws, see usopen.org.
Obviously, I was a glued to my live computer stream and later, my television, to watch the Ryan Harrison - Sergiy Stakhovsky match. As I'm sure you're aware by now, Harrison led 6-3 in the fifth set tiebreaker, but lost the last five points of Stakhovsky's 6-3, 5-7, 3-6, 6-3, 7-6(6) victory. It may have been disappointing for Harrison, but the poise and game he showed in that intimidating atmosphere impressed everyone, whether they've known him for a long time, or just heard of him two days ago. He hit one of the shots of the tournament (and if anyone finds it out there, please share), and that may not have been as impressive as his post-match press conference. See usopen.org for a complete video of that. I expect there will be big crowds at his men's and mixed doubles matches on Saturday.
For more on the match, see the New York Times report.
Also, Beatrice Capra will be playing Maria Sharapova on Arthur Ashe Stadium tomorrow, the second match on. She and Jack Sock also will play their first round of mix doubles later in the day. As of yesterday, Capra was still planning on playing the juniors the last I heard. For more on her reaction to her day, see her player diary on usopen.org. Sock and Shelby Rogers also have written entries about their matches.